The exquisite delicacies of Galicia in the north of Spain are based on the high quality and variety of the local products used in the preparation of dishes. Country, farm and sea products are unique in their characteristics and quality.
More than 300 gastronomic fiestas are held in Galicia throughout the year, arousing much interest in visitors, and lie in the many local and regional traditional fiestas held during harvest time or religious holidays. Some of these fiestas attract great crowds and have been recognised as of national tourist interest.
From the Sea
Traditionally Galicia, with its 1,200 kilometre coastline and countless sea ports and harbours, has always been a region where the sea is all important, one of the main activities of its inhabitants being that of fishing. Today, Vigo is the main fishing harbour in Europe and the Galician rias are the main producers of mussels in the world. Barnacles from the coast which have been bashed by the strong Atlantic waves, crayfish, scallops, spider crabs, nécoras (small crabs), shrimps, bueyes de mar (large crabs) and lobster from the rias, together with the oysters, mussels, cockles, clams, octopus, cuttlefish, turbot, red bream, sardines, sargo (similar to bonito), sea bass and many other types of fish which populate the Galician waters. The centuries-old fishing tradition of Galicia has resulted in fish markets which offer the best variety of deep-sea fish, such as tuna, hake, cod, pollack and the delectable mackerel. Simple recipes for top quality products.
From the Land
The most important meat in Galicia is beef. It is eaten very young as veal, and the best animals bear the ternera gallega seal of quality. This meat is used to prepare hundreds of recipes, such as the exquisite sirloin steak, the popular caldeiro (type of stew) and Galician cocido, made with potato and chickpeas. The visitor who prefers his meat well-done, must try Galician ox, which has crossed borders and been incorporated into the cuisine of other Spanish regions, such as the Basque Country.
If the coast is rich in produce, interior Galicia takes pride in its Peppers with Denomination, such as those from Padrón, potatoes from Bergantiños, “Pan de carballo” and “cea” and corn. With regards its cheese, the majority are prepared using cow’s milk. Galicia maintains Denominations for such cheeses as Tetilla, Ulloa, San Simón and O Cebreiro. Its cooked ham is used to prepare the typical ham with parsnip tops.
Interior Galicia loves its sausages, the most important with regards originality being the androlla sausage and botelo, which is smoked and then cooked. Galicia also cultivates its own wine and boasts five different Denominations of Origin. The most famous of its liqueurs is the aguardiente gallego, a high-proof distillate which is used to make the traditional mulled drink known as “queimada” (flamed).
Both Sea and Land
The dish that unites interior Galicia with its coast is called empanada (filled pastries). Empanada can be stuffed with pork rib, meat, pork loin, beef loin, sardines, octopus, cod with raisins, bonito… almost anything you can imagine. Empanadas are known in Galicia since the time of the Goths in the seventh century where standards for its preparation are decreed. The empanada was suitable food for travelers, being a preparation already covered and allowing to avoid the contact of the interior with the dust of the roads. The Galician pies are already carved in the XII century in the Portico de la Gloria in Santiago de Compostela.
Cover image via the official page of Turismo de Galicia, from where you can find lots of useful information for planning your trip.